The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands council recently approved a number of updated bylaws in relation to its Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) and associated updates to property standards, safe yards, canine control and noise bylaws.
The Township will be implementing an Administrative Monetary Penalty bylaw. An AMPS is a municipality administered program that replaces the current court system with a faster, more flexible process for bylaw offences.
One of the main objectives of an AMPS program is to create a simple, accessible, fair and cost-effective system of dealing with bylaw violations.
Under an AMPS program, a person receives a penalty notice (fine) rather than a Provincial Offences Act, also known as a POA, ticket. The fine is payable directly to the township. A person wishing to dispute a penalty notice can request a review by a screening officer and can subsequently appeal the screening officer’s decision to a hearing officer. The recommended AMPS bylaw appoints the township's external legal counsel as the hearing officer. All fines would be payable directly to the township.
Currently, the township has approved short-form wording for the property standards, canine and tour bus idling bylaws. If someone is issued a ticket and chooses to appeal the fine, the dispute is heard through the provincial offences court. However, there is a time delay and associated costs with this process.
Through the AMPS approach, the township appoints a screening officer to act as the first point of appeal. The screening officer can be a staff person with the authority to hear and make a determination regarding an appeal.
At this time, the bylaws proposed to be included as "designated bylaws" in the AMPS bylaw are property standards, safe properties, canine control and noise.
Staff proposed that council repeal the existing bylaws and replace them with the bylaws that have been revised to reflect the existence of the AMPS bylaw, meaning that there will be a complete set of bylaws approved under the new framework.
Property standards and safe properties bylaws have been updated to reference the AMPS bylaw for enforcement.
A provision has been added to both bylaws to include a 25 per cent administrative cost when the township is required to enter a property to complete work to achieve compliance. The township will recover the costs for any repairs or maintenance undertaken to bring a property into compliance with this bylaw.
The owner to which an order has been issued with be required to pay for the costs including a 25 per cent administration fee, in like matter as municipal taxes.
The canine control bylaw has been updated to include provisions for muzzling aggressive dogs. Under the current bylaw the township is required to obtain a provincial order for an aggressive dog to be muzzled. The updated bylaw allows the bylaw enforcement officer to issue the order for a muzzle and levy a fine if the order is not complied with.
This bylaw was also amended to include provisions for administration of the bylaw in accordance with the AMPS bylaw which will establish fines for enforcement.
The noise bylaw has been updated to include the required provisions to allow for enforcement under the AMPS bylaw.
Council heard that it is intended that as the use of the AMPS bylaw progresses, additional township bylaws will be updated and included in the enforcement framework of the AMPS bylaw, including parking, docking, parks, and animal control. Any municipal bylaw enacted under the authority of the Municipal Act can be enforced through the AMPS bylaw.
The updates to the property standards and safe yards bylaws establish a 25 per cent administration fee to be added to the cost of a property cleanup to assist in recouping some of the costs associated with township staff time coordinating and attending a site to supervise a contractor.
(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times